Thirty-three missing children were recovered this month by the FBI’s Los Angeles field office in an anti-human trafficking operation.
“Operation Lost Angels” was a joint effort between the FBI, the Los Angeles Police Department, Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, and about two dozen other agencies.
According to a statement made by the FBI, of the 33 children rescued, eight were being sexually exploited. Two of the children were recovered multiple times during the operation due to some victims being unable to “not self-identify as being trafficked or may not even realize they’re being trafficked.”
The operation resulted in the arrest of one suspected human trafficker, and several investigations were opened. Additionally, some minor victims were arrested for violating probation, robbery, and various other misdemeanors. One child was the victim of noncustodial parental kidnapping.
In the release, the FBI says their caseload for sex and labor trafficking-related crimes have increased exponentially in the past several years. As of November 2020, there were more than 1,800 pending trafficking investigations, including those that involved minors exploited through commercial sex trafficking.
Last year, the FBI initiated 664 human trafficking investigations nationwide, which resulted in the arrests of 473 traffickers.
“The FBI considers human trafficking modern-day slavery, and the minors engaged in commercial sex trafficking are considered victims,” said Assistant Director Kristi K. Johnson. “While this operation surged resources over a limited period of time with great success, the FBI and our partners investigate child sex trafficking every day of the year and around the clock.”